It’s been nearly two decades since the first true Adam Sandler vehicle, 1995’s Billy Madison, came out. For Sandler, who’s now 47-years-old, not a whole lot has changed. Besides occasional stabs at more serious roles and the banishing of Rob Schneider from measly cameos, there’s never been a ton of deviation in Sandler’s movies. His latest, Blended, is no different. The humor is all predicated on random throwaway gags, bizarre, childish views of sex and the usual last-ditch effort at waxing sentimental as a means of making all this junk seem OK. Blended is especially lathered in the latter, since this is supposedly a “family” film — one that just happens to ooze stunted, ugly sex jokes.
If his sense of humor is any indicator, Sandler is a man who views the human body as either a source of derision, the end of a punchline or simply a germ for simple-minded, tongue-wagging lust. I’m fairly confident that the first time I encountered the word “sophomoric” was in regards to a review of an early Sandler film, and guess what? Nearly 20 years later, zero has changed. Of course, in the scheme of things, this sameness isn’t such a big deal. After all, Sandler has made a fortune on his modus operandi, but the facade is starting to show cracks; throwing Blended into the thresher up against X-Men: Days of Future Past and Godzilla shows a certain lack of faith.
Nevertheless, the thing still exists and features Sandler as Jim, a single dad who goes on a disastrous blind date with Lauren (Drew Barrymore), a single mom. After establishing that they intensely dislike each other — which takes about half an hour to set up — the two and their families end up stuck on a free trip to an African resort with one another. The Sandler/Barrymore team-up is the film’s lone point of interest, since they last came together to make the not completely, but pretty close to awful 50 First Dates (2004). But that was a decade ago, and I doubt a ton of people were clamoring for these two to link up once more (besides Barrymore, of course, whose career is currently hovering right around her Poison Ivy (1992) days).
Lots of far-fetched hijinks happen, while the two — spoiler alert — start to fall for each other. The film can’t help itself and follows the usual rom-com formula of the break-up and eventual make-up, and everyone lives a fantastic life. The end. But no one’s here for plotting or storytelling. They’re here for — well, I’m not sure why they’re here. Maybe there’s an appeal in the various cameos of Adam Sandler’s buddies and welfare cases, or the familiarity born of Sandler’s lazy style of comedy. A better idea might be simple nihilism, but even that feels optimistic when faced with the prospects of a new Adam Sandler movie. You might have noticed I haven’t really said much about the actual movie. That’s because, at this point, what is there to say? It’s just more of the same — an endless parade of garbage. Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and language.
Playing at Carolina Cinemas, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, United Artists Beaucatcher.